Widow fights to end car lease after tragic hit and run

NEW YORK (WABC) -- It was a tragic hit and run crash that left a New Jersey man dead. But months after this unsolved killing, his widow says she's enduring yet another indignity; getting out of the lease of the car involved in the killing of her husband.

"I don't know if I'll ever heal. Sometimes I feel like I can't go on," said Leslie Cedillo, who has struggled through the two and a half months since her husband, Jose, had his life tragically cut short by a hit and run driver.

The accident happened as the 44-year-old was on his way to work in Monroe Township, New Jersey. Police say his truck was struck by another car. But when Jose pulled over at the corner of Applegarth and Forsgate Drive to inspect the damage, the driver of the other car struck him and sped off .

"I just cry and cry and cry," says the tear-stained widow. "Why did you leave me?"

Leslie spoke to Eyewitness News the night she learned Jose was never coming home to her and their two rescued Rottweilers. His pickup was seized by the Middlesex County Major Crimes Unit in November, But when she contacted the dealer and the leaseholder to get out of the lease?

"They told me there's absolutely nothing they can do," said Leslie.

Leslie hasn't even seen the car since the morning her husband was killed, The pickup has been impounded by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office as part of the ongoing investigation and search for a suspect.

"(Since Jose's death) I made two payments so it's current," says the grieving widow. "But there are two years to go. I'm paying monthly payments for a car that I don't have, don't know where it is and I don't want to drive. I never want to see that vehicle again."

Yet she's making the payment of $696 a month, and has payments totaling $16,008 left to go on the lease.

"I need to try to hold onto this house and I need for them to release me from that lease," pleads Leslie. "It's unfair that Nissan is not being compassionate in any way at all."

Leslie's lawyer pointed out this clause in the lease contract: Which states if the car is "confiscated by any government authority" Nissan "MAY terminate the lease."

Leslie says she pointed this out - but Nissan told her the issue has been under legal review for the past two months.

So we contacted Nissan, sharing Leslie's tragic hardship and asking the auto giant to terminate the lease. And within a week, citing unique circumstances, Nissan corporate agreed to terminate the lease.

"I don't think they would've done it had you guys not been on my side," said a grateful former leaseholder.

Nissan's rep said it couldn't comment on this case because of privacy concerns.

The big takeaway, remember it's very hard to get out of a lease. But you do have some options if you want out.

You can do a trade-in where the dealership works the remaining lease payments into a new car deal. But get the terms in writing.

And you can do a lease swap. This is where another party agrees to take your car and continue your lease payments.

One big downside, if the other party defaults - all the payments will fall on you. And if you're on active duty in the military you may be able to get out of your lease. Just get a copy of it and read it carefully.

This fatal hit and run is still unsolved. If you have any information about what may have happened, please call the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Crime Stoppers unit at 800-939-9600 or click here.


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